I think summertime and all the bare, sweaty skin just brings my awareness of how much I've been physically altered to a hideous, pulsating head. My hair is thin and I appear to have a bald spot and receding hairline. In the winter, hiding under hats was easy. Even my all-cotton, homemade kufis don't save me because a hot flash in the sweltering heat of day strikes and it needs. To. Come. Off.
I barely have any eyebrows or eyelashes. All the makeup in Sephora applied expertly really, in the end, is pointless. With no lashes, everything just runs into my poor blinding eyes.
Tank tops don't hide the bulging port (and grisly scar) and the accompanying ripple from the tube that goes from it to my collarbone (and another scar) to my clavicle and into my heart.
I've gained almost 10 pounds. I never had to think about calories or portions and now, I'm painfully aware that I can have 1300 calories or less. Can't exercise and being tired just makes me want to eat more. Even if I have an active day and log in lots of activity, I will end up paying for it by being exhausted in a day or two. Not the kind of tired that you can snap out of with a good cup of coffee or two. The kind of tired you can't shake with an XL Dunkin' Donuts coffee, three Coke Zeros, and a scoop of Cardio Cuts. Having all that caffeine is actually worse; you're wired and exhausted so you can't sleep, and then you end up sobbing over a construction paper jellyfish your preschooler made because you're sad and delirious.
Let's not forget the toenails. No evidence of fungus, but the big toes are definitely at half mast. Kinda hard to hide even with peep toe shoes.
I used to be quick-witted and analytical, fast-talking with the ability to pull out just the right four-syllable stunner to explain my thoughts. Now, I struggle with embarrassing aphasia. i speak slowly and deliberately, pausing and fluttering hands to grasp the main word that seems just beyond my reach, so people continually finish my sentences for me. I have a tough time following plot lines and dialogue in movies and on television, and though I read voraciously, constantly exercising my brain, my comprehension is taxed so I reread phrases and paragraphs until I understand.
Mostly, it's the feeling of being too hard to look at that is so saddening. Sales clerks stare at the creepy bulge in my chest while they speak to my husband, and tables of senior citizens dining together don't quite know how to be subtle anymore about stealing a look at the poor bald lady with little boys eating in the booth behind them. It's hard for the cashier at the drug store to make eye contact. Little kids stare in horror until I break the ice and say hi and then they avert their eyes and hide behind their parent. For my whole life, I've gotten used to being stared at: a vivacious, athletic girl with dancing green eyes and bright, giant smile. Now, I try to see how long I can avoid my own reflection.